Though many people outside of the southern and western United States may find this surprising, rodeo, involving such events as roping and barrel racing, is a top sport in America. Beyond these events, when most Americans think of rodeo, they automatically think of one of its most dangerous events: bull riding. Bull riding and similarly dangerous events, such as bareback riding and saddle bronc riding, can easily result in physical and cranial harm to the competitor. Therefore, it seems quite discordant that on Saturday, March 18th, Lubbock, TX is having its 4th Annual Brain Injury Awareness Rodeo.
“Protect your brain and put your skills to the test with this fun educational event!” says Lubbock Park and Recreation of the event, open to people 4 ages and older. In fact, the “rodeo” isn’t actually a rodeo – it is a bike-riding educational event, to be held at Safety City, “a unique kid-sized town where school age children learn hands-on the rules of pedestrian, bicycle and traffic safety.” In New Mexico, another such children’s “rodeo” event will be happening in Albuquerque.
Although calling the event a rodeo may misconstrue its purpose, the name does give notice to the connection between brain injury and rodeo. Rodeo is one of the most dangerous of popular sports, with riders ten times more likely to be seriously injured than football players. Earlier this year, for example, a 25-year-old professional bull rider who had numerous concussions and suffered from depression and anxiety, likely signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), committed suicide.
However, as the headline of this article notes, rodeo is an All-American sport. Therefore, it is often connected to politics. At the public University of Arizona, Rodeo is a club sport. At Fall Creek and Houston, TX elementary schools, they just planned a rodeo for their students. And last February, Sylvester Turner, the mayor of Houston, TX, had a Rodeo Kickoff Breakfast, “to highlight the economic and social impact the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has on the city of Houston.”
It is not my place to comment on the legitimacy of Rodeo as a sport, as it is enjoyed by millions and its athletes are aware of its risks. However, I find it counterintuitive for the government to promote a sport that actually injuries or kills some of its constituents.